Axtell native directs 'Messiah' concert for 60 years

Rodney Wendell, is 88-years-old and has received many awards for his contributions to music. Photo by Mark Wells

KEENE, Neb. — Rodney Wendell, 88, has received many awards for his contributions to music.

Wendell said music is his passion and he will keep directing the Messiah as long as he can.

Wendell said a crowd of about 900 usually come to see the Messiah performance.

"It has every emotion there is in life is in the music, and when you bring that out the singers love it and you want to come again," said Wendell.

He got involved with the Messiah a little after he graduated from Kearney State College and got involved with other singers.

"We sang at clubs and sang on TV in Lincoln. That group then as they grew up we decided to go ahead with a Messiah," Wendell said.

His love for music started long ago when he was just a child. He said his parents were a huge influence.

"I started taking piano when I was five. I love piano and singing, and she had the book there so I could soon play a simple little aria or something I could handle," he said.

As the director, Wendell says he has to bring out all the notes in the music that needs to be stressed.

"It's like an opera in a way. It's a story, so all of that music fits into the end note," Wendell said.

The Messiah performance will be held on March 25 at 7 p.m. on Palm Sunday at the Merryman Performing Arts Center in Kearney.

Wendell will turn 89-years-old the following month of his performance.

Tickets are available at the Merryman Performing Arts Center in Kearney, The Solid Rock in Kearney, My Fair Lady's Fashions in Holdrege, and Joy's Floral and Gifts in Minden.

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